Alabama Not Only Lacks Water, But Lacks A Water Plan

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Lake Purdy which has receded several feet due to drought, leaves dry, cracked ground where lake water should use to be, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. Hotter than normal temperatures combined with the below normal rainfall have worsened drought conditions across Alabama. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Lake Purdy  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Huffington Post reported on Alabama’s drought as the ‘worst in modern memory’.  Lake Purdy, which supplies Birmingham with drinking water, has receded several feet due to drought, leaving dry, cracked ground where water used to be.

More than 98 percent of the state is now suffering drought conditions, with parts of the northeast and east-central Alabama enduring “exceptional drought” and more than 12,000 acres of land statewide have burned in wildfire.

74 year old Alabama farmer George Robertson told The Huffington Post that he has experienced some bad droughts over the years, but has seen nothing like this. “You can walk out into the pastures where the cattle are, and it’s like walking on toast,” he said over the phone. “Everything is crunchy, everything is dead.”

Mitch Reid







Mitch Reid, Hoover resident and program director of Alabama Rivers Alliance, took this picture of Patton Creek.  Residents made stone cairns from the dry bedrock.  Dead fish litter the dead creek.

How will Alabama deal with a significant reduction in water?  

“There’s a complete lack of a water plan in Alabama, and if you look at the history of water management in state, we always freak out in droughts,” said Reid. “We basically just keep using the water until it runs out.”

The report below from the River Network, shows that Alabama has no policy in place for most aspects of water management (red boxes).  This means we have no permitting process for large water withdrawals from our rivers and no defined action to take when we are in a declared drought emergency as state officials have announced this month.


(River Network)

In 2012, Governor Bentley directed state agencies to put together a comprehensive water management plan but nothing definitive has emerged.

William Andreen, an environmental law professor who specializes in water management at the the University of Alabama, told The Huffington Post this week that the state appears to be “in the midst of an attempt to create a more rational approach to water management in the future.”

“That effort, I would hope, will produce a permit program for large water withdrawals, a system that will establish and implement environmental flows on our rivers and streams, and a more effective approach for dealing with droughts,” he said

Let’s hope we get a water plan for Alabama now, lest we find we find ourselves in a state of drought and desperation.

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